Gotabaya Rajapaksa Claims Victory In Sri Lanka Presidential Election

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Claims Victory In Sri Lanka Presidential Election

Sri Lanka Election: Gotabaya Rajapaksa was leading in Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese areas

New Delhi: Gotabaya Rajapaksa stormed to victory on Sunday in Sri Lanka's presidential elections seven months after terror attacks killed 269 people. The retired lieutenant colonel, nicknamed the "Terminator" by his own family, won 53-54 percent of the vote, his spokesman told AFP as Rajapaksa's main rival Sajith Premadasa of the ruling party conceded the race.

Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said, "It is a clear win. We envisaged it. We are very happy that Gota will be the next president. He will be sworn in tomorrow or the day after."

Rajapaksa, 70, had a 49.6 percent share of the vote with close to six million ballots counted. He is the younger brother of the charismatic but controversial Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president from 2005-15.

Results from Sinhalese-majority regions the Rajapaksas' core support base were expected to push this above 50 percent.

Premadasa, 52, of the ruling party was trailing at 44.4 percent. He had strong support in minority Tamil areas and a poor showing in larger Sinhalese constituencies.

Also Read: Sri Lanka Voters Attacked By Gunmen On Buses, No Casualties

Election Commission chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said at least 80 percent of the 15.99 million eligible voters participated in Saturday's poll, which was marred by isolated violence that left several people injured.

Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the April 21 suicide bomb attacks blamed on a homegrown terror group.

Three luxury hotels and three churches were targeted in the coordinated bombings. ISIS also claimed responsibility for the attack, which left 45 foreigners dead.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who stepped aside and allowed his deputy Premadasa to stand in the election, Saturday's poll was the first popularity test of the United National Party (UNP) government. 

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